Monday, August 31, 2015

Lessons Learned from Self Paced Class

NOTE: I am publishing this as a DRAFT. I just wanted to get it out there for people to find, but I haven't edited it fully at this point. Apologies for typos and lack of clarity in advance.

I've been "self-pacing" my Algebra 1 class for the about the last trimester (I started dabbling at the end of Trimester 2, but it officially started Trimester 3). As I work at a transfer school, attendance is a big struggle, and my period attendance is roughly 20% -- many classes I have less than 10 students, and often only 1-5.

To adjust to everyone being at a separate place in the curriculum, I've used a mix of digital and paper resources. I've built a class website, which I recently re-vamped. The issue I addressed in my re-vamp was ease of navigation. If you are building a website, cannot stress enough how much more user-friendly horizontal navigation bars are, as opposed to vertical lists.

My biggest struggle is getting students motivated, and eager to stay on pace. Here's my reflection on it , and a collection of ideas I have for next year.

1) Trackers
2) Grading
3) Materials
4) Routines

1) Trackers

Students need both PUBLIC and PERSONAL trackers - for both LONG term (Trimester) and SHORT term (Daily) goals. I think this will help keep students motivated, or at the least, clearly informed about where they are and where they are going within the curriculum.

PUBLIC LONG TERM - 
Public (on PPT) Long Term (Outcomes) Tracker --
Student Names Removed 

PUBLIC SHORT TERM 
Daily Goal: Public Tracker


PERSONAL LONG TERM - I did not refer to this enough, but the student syllabus had a place for students to track their scores on weighted assignments. I also aligned IXL skills to each of our outcomes that students could use for more practice.

From the Syllabus


PERSONAL SHORT TERM - I tried a few iterations of this, but I think this is the best I've done so far. I'd like to add a place for students to put their NAME, and a clearly labeled column to mark (check, sticker, or stamp) their progress.
Personal Short Term Goal Tracker

The road to success, a daily goal, a syllabus tracker, an outcome checklist (both class-wide poster size and individual)

2) Grading

Also, next year I will enter all student grades as missing at the beginning of the school year. This way, whenever they (or their parent, or their social worker, or any stakeholder) look at their progress report, they will see ALL the upcoming assignments.

3) Materials to have ready at the start of class: 

- public trackers (long & short term)
- binder of guided notes, organized by outcome, with exemplar filled out Teacher Copy for each 
- multi colored highlighters to connect ideas in guided notes with vocab, graphs, and steps
- whiteboards and markers for practice (I've found these very helpful, I can do a mini-lesson with each student wherever they are, and leave the exemplar/notes with them as they continue to practice, or they can use their own whiteboard to practice on the computer). 

4) Classroom Routines

Entrance Routine for Students
I wish I had split more time between teacher-led and video lessons to break up the pacing. Our periods are 65 minutes, and that's a long time for my students to sustain self-motivation. 

Summer Prep
- Course Outcomes
- Daily Objectives
- Mini Video Lessons for Each Objective
- Guided Notes for each Lesson
- Develop Whole Class Activities, accessible for multiple levels